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REVIEW Joe Lovano at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival

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Monday June 21, 2010

from Jazz Police

Twin Cities Jazz Festival – 12th Annual Tops Them All
By Andrea Canter

For the twelfth time, area jazz fans, general music fans, and folks just out for some free fun found plenty to enjoy at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, formerly the Hot Summer Jazz Festival. And formerly, it was a two-weekend, two-city affair. The flailing economy as well as some loss of enthusiasm on the west side of the river nearly brought the festival to a halt a year ago, but thanks to producer Steve Heckler, the city of St. Paul, and some renewed corporate support, the festival was reborn in 2009 at Mears Park in St. Paul’s Lowertown.

Living legend Joe Lovano leading one of the most lauded small ensembles in modern jazz, Us Five. Even without usual bassist, the dynamic Esperanza Spalding (on “leave” for the summer with her own projects), the creative compositions and unusual instrumentation of two trapsets kept the energy initiated by Jones at a high level for the Friday night finale. Lovano, hampered last winter by two broken arms following two freakish and coincidental accidents, seemed as strong as ever on tenor and taragato, and his cohorts provided the same intensity and interplay that brought their 2009 debut recording, Folk Art, to the top of many Best of the Year lists. And although he lacks the drama of Esperanza, young Peter Slavov ably took over the bass chair, while pianist James Weidman and drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown II filled out the ensemble, its collaborative nature validating the name, Us Five. Lovano also led a free clinic the next afternoon at McNally Smith College of Music.

Read the entire review here